Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 4.202: Beach rescue

We packed up camp this morning and went down to the beach.  It was not a long journey - about half a mile across the state park.  We had the sand to ourselves when we got there although a few other people arrived once the lifeguards 'opened' the beach.

While we were swimming, Exile #4 called me over to show me a butterfly floating on the surface.  It turned out to be alive but injured.  We brought it to dry land, but I suspect its flying days were already behind it either way.

The rest of our short beach visit were filled with normal lake-beach summer activities but all too soon it was time to leave and head home.

By the way, I have updated the picture from yesterday and the text-formatting from the last two days.  Emailing in posts from my phone is a great option to have - but a little basic.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 4.201: Campfire s'mores

We had a busy day sorting out some unfinished business in western New York. This evening we've been preparing s'mores on a campfire - an excellent activity for a summer night.

The evening was briefly interrupted by hearing about a missing three year-old. Of course we know that almost every case like this results in the safe return, that word 'almost' is enough to strike fear into any parent. She was found safely after what I'm sure felt like an eternity to her parents.

Story time around the fire now. Good night!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 4.200: Exiles sited!

We've successfully set up camp. There is something very satisfying about arriving at an empty patch of land and creating a temporary home. Many years ago I walked most of the Pennine Way with two friends. We carried our tent on that occasion - even more of a sense of achievement in that case - but I'll settle for this one.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 4.199: Feet and inches

We've been trying to work out what we need to take in terms of car seats on our trip back to the UK. This involves researching pertinent laws on both sides of the Atlantic. It also involves knowing the height and weight of the kids.

Weight is no problem thanks to the fancy digital weighing scale I bought to monitor my recent weight-loss. Height is always a problem.

So, when I saw a measuring scale on the wall at go! last weekend, I saw an opportunity.

So now you know - and, more importantly, so do I!

Incidentally there is a non-zero risk of a break in normal blogging service over the next couple of days, but I think you know I'll do all I can to try to avoid that happening.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 4.198: There's always something

I guess I make no secret that when we go off on a hike I am always hoping to see a beaver or a fox or a cedar waxwing or a bluebird or something.

Well, on Sunday we did a quick circuit of the Vlomankill Trail at Five Rivers and we saw nothing...well nothing of that kind. Did that mean we had a dull time?

What do you think?  There was plenty for Exile #3 to write about - stunning damselflies, various flowers, a huge log wedged under a bridge (presumably by some impressive flood waters) and evidence of a squirrel's dinner.

And on top of that, the shady spot was perfect for a late afternoon stroll.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 4.197: Fragile creatures

It's been frustratingly quiet at the hummingbird feeder for a while. When we first put it up we had lots of visits - mostly around dusk when it was impossible to get a decent picture. More recently they deserted it for the flowers that are blooming just beyond. Then, at the weekend they started being seen at it again and I finally got set up to get a picture. Once again I'm stunned by how tiny these birds are.

Yesterday's news about Amy Winehouse's death has been on my mind today. I was slow to appreciate her talent - seeing a tabloid mess more than a musical tour-de-force before we moved out here. A few years ago, however, we saw her performing live on TV out here and I was completely captivated. Back to Black is her at her sassy and vulnerable best in my opinion. If you don't mind a profanity and a slang drug reference I recommend this version but here it is in its US radio-friendly version.

I only say goodbye with words.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 4.196: Third culture

On of my facebook friends who lives in Nicaragua wrote this from the UK yesterday:

We've been talking about our trip 'home' for the last few weeks, now we are here, we are talking about when we go back 'home'

I know that feeling - I'm sure we will have exactly those conversations in both places as we prepare for and journey back to the UK next month. She went on to suggest that they were suffering from 'third culture' shock". I had to look it up.

Today I got a hint that Exile #3 may indeed be a TCK. First I discovered this on the fridge - she called it a 'crazy Union Jack'*!

Then she went and fetched the new swimsuit she chose today.


* And yes, thank you to all as pedantic as me - I know it is actually a 'crazy Union Flag'!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 4.195: Paper...phew!

I doubt if anyone is going to part with good money to watch this special event.  Fortunately I'm bringing it to you for free!

A few weeks ago we decided it was finally time to redecorate the dining room. As we prepared to get started it looked like this:

We were reasonably confident that we would be able to strip the wallpaper and paint in a reasonably short length of time.

Of course we hadn't reckoned on this happening as we tried to remove the well-glued wallpaper from the wall-made-of-paper:

Yes, the brown patches are where the paper on the drywall panels peeled away with the wallpaper on half of one wall (and in a few other patches) resulting in some anguish, fevered web searches and some cursing of American building methods.

Fortunately, after finishing the stripping and applying a coat of primer I discovered that I am a dab-hand with joint-compound (a.k.a. mud) and the goes-on-pink dries-white stuff that I chose was a big hit with the kids - it looks quite striking - especially in the tub.

We finished the painting last night and this morning we put the room back together.

Time for a contented sigh of relief.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 4.194: Go!

So what to do when it's Saturday and it's like this*:


Well, we decided to go! and find some indoor activities.

Some time ago we went a couple of times to an indoor play place in Glens Falls called Explore! Sadly our visits and blog-plugs were not enough to keep it going but the last time we went they had a small exhibit from the World Awareness Childrens' Museum which they said were currently homeless but hoping to open again soon just down the street - and indeed they have.

They call their interactive exhibition space "go!" and it is a small but wonderful museum packed with things that have the potential to open up an interest in the world beyond the immediate experience of upstate New York kids.

This is what we got up to:

 Planning our next trip:

 Trying on some Indian clothes:

Getting a taste of Japan (not sure why but you may need to click for the full effect):

Marvelling at the huge wedding kimono:

Worrying about the tiny Chinese foot-binding shoes:

Loving art made by children from around the world:

And some dancing:

As well as drumming, rowing a dragon boat, designing money, wondering at the candy with worms and ants embedded in it, buying and cooking dinner in an African village, some shadow puppetry and making friends with a very cute little toddler.

It was well worth the hour's drive!

* This was taken today but the real air temperature probably peaked at around 95°F - quite hot enough!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 4.193: Friday Haikus #11

No visa for him,
But a neutral expression?
We can still do that!

Air-conditioned man,
Extremely hot evening -
Light sensor failure*.

A week of day camp.
A week of decorating.
Now it's time to sleep.

* It's true - it seemed the infrared sensor on the driveway light could not pick me (recently stepping out of a cool car) from the approx 90°F background signal!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 4.192: Vis-a-vis

I made appointments for us to renew our visas again next month. We will be in the UK from August 22nd to September 6th and will be visiting the US embassy in London once again.

Like last year, we required new photographs and once again I rather liked the ones I took of the girls despite the 'neutral' expressions that they are required to wear.

They are certainly quite different from their first US visa photographs.  On the other hand Exile #2 and I haven't changed a bit!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 4.191: High voltage

Three Americans and three British men walk into a bar...

A former colleague was in town today because he's over for the closing on his house which he left to return to the UK recently. We had a very convivial lunch at Brown's in Troy after which he asked if anyone wanted some 110 to 220V step-up transformers to save them from an untimely trip to the land-fill. We brought very few electrical items with us but I had one that I had recently been itching to use again so I jumped at the shock of being offered such a currently desirable item.

So this evening I've been enjoying acquainting my old MIDI synthesizer with my new MIDI controller (Rock Band Pro Guitar controller) and making an unholy racket.

...and one of the Brits ends up several step-up transformers richer.

Not much of a punchline is it? Feel free to offer a better one!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 4.190: Musical interlude

It's Day 4.190 - and you know what that means? It means it's time for some music!

Firstly, from a local band that I've heard before but never really listened to, a slice of wonderfulness discovered thanks to Spotify's arrival in the US. It's Phantogram with Mouthful of Diamonds. This is a live version. The recorded version is also wildly good.

I received my copy of They Might Be Giants' new CD "Join Us" today. It includes a track called Canajoharie which is a place about an hour west of here on the Thruway. But what I have to share with you is this recording of these New Yorkers doing a cover of a song from a band from the north of England. Pure joy in a small round room:

They Might Be Giants covers Chumbawamba

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 4.189: The light at the end...

We've been undertaking what we thought was a small DIY project over the last week or so. It started badly and went downhill from there, but we're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and believe it will work out OK. I'll share the whole story once it comes together!

The picture was taken with a cell-phone the other day - these sunsets are spectacular and short-lived!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 4.188: Sharks closing in

Although we have been hearing reports that there have been shark sightings at some of our local beaches, we were pretty sure we would be safe visiting Albaniana's back-yard pool this afternoon.

We were both right and wrong as it turns out. We had a very good and safe time and both the air temperature (mid-nineties) and water temperature (low-eighties) were perfect for the occasion - but we did see a shark.

E5N1 was taking no chances*.

* He did in fact spend a good deal of his time in the pool in this inflatable chair inherited many years ago from his cousin.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 4.187: Lie-in

I discovered the other day that my US colleagues had no idea what a 'lie-in' is. I was astonished. Nor, it seems, is there a simple alternative phrase. Let me demonstrate what a problem that is by doing this post with and without the phrase.

US readers please struggle through this:

The kids had a pretty lazy day recovering from their late night last night, but after being allowed (by the kids and our schedule) to stay in bed a little longer than usual to catch up on much-needed sleep, Exile #2 and I had a very busy day. The first task was to trim the shrubs at the front of the house "before it gets too warm" yeah - well, we managed to get the job done but it was already roasting in the mid-morning sun.

UK readers don't bother with that, read this instead - you'll get exactly the same information:

The kids had a pretty lazy day recovering from their late night last night, but after a welcome lie-in, Exile #2 and I had a very busy day. The first task was to trim the shrubs at the front of the house "before it gets too warm" yeah - well, we managed to get the job done but it was already roasting in the mid-morning sun.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 4.186: Fire-pit stories

Exile #2, inspired by The Moth and our camping trip, suggested an evening of stories around the camp-fire. So tonight, that's just what we did. It was a small group but we had a great time telling stories loosely based around the topic of "Summer".

The kids joined in - the girls managing to recount some stories rather well. E5N1's idea of a story was...well, like this:

Once upon a time there was a monster.
All the children came to the monster.
He ate them all up.

In a sequel, the monster had a stomach-ache and then was eaten by a bigger monster so it was something of a cautionary tale all around.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 4.185: Baking and building

Each day when I get home from work the kids have plenty to tell me about what they have been doing. Yesterday they had been visiting our friends' farm and swimming in their pool, today I bring you photographs of baking and building.

The baking is not edible - it is salt dough food for the girls' American Girl dolls. They found some pictures in a catalogue and decided to create some of their own accessories. Now that they can count their pocket money and read the prices, this is much less of a hard-sell for us!

As for the building, Exile #3 was the block balancer and Exile #4 was delighted with her Magnatile creation. As for E5N1, he managed to resist the temptation to knock them down - probably equally impressive!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 4.184: Farming and other work

It's been something of a normal work day today with little to report on the blog. I took this picture just after we left Christman Sanctuary on Saturday. It is always a surprise to find ourselves in farming country - most of the places we go around here are either town or trees. We knew from trips to Cooperstown and other places that as you travel west there are rolling hillsides of farmland. It turns out that you don't have to go too far to see the transition starting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 4.183: She too was very special

I saw this at Christman Sanctuary last weekend.

It's quite the best memorial of its kind I can remember seeing.  Poignant.